Selections from Angel City Review
Playlist by Janice Lee 10 poems
Founded in Los Angeles in Fall 2014, Angel City Review is a literary journal that is committed to bringing the cutting edge in fiction and poetry to a modern audience, with an emphasis on writers based in Los Angeles. (http://angelcityreview.com/)
1. mercury in retrograde
Iris De Anda
2. Jacob Lawrence Ekphrasis: Frederick Douglass Series
F. Douglas Brown
3. #DTLA is not #Racist!
Teka Lark Fleming
4. Sententious
Khadija Anderson
5. if 100, then 150 (excerpt 2)
Chiwan Choi
6. A Woman’s Alchemy
Jesse Bliss
7. Night & The City: LA Noir
Mike Sonksen
8. the apartheid imagination
Sesshu Foster
9. Innominate Panorama
Will Alexander
10. (the other house)
Rocío Carlos
Silly Girl
who do you think you are?
always blaming the stars
playing with fire
dancing at the edge
falling into dark corners
there is a guardian
roaming above your head
the reason you’re not dead yet
always taunting
split second chances
runaway chases
take another sip
forget remembering
slip into night sky
don’t care
play music loud
fast and louder
invoke wonder
thru muses
infuse this mess
you find yourself in
come up for air
come down from there
the ladder is waiting
the moon is lighting
the earth is calling you home

Panel 7. olemarsterauldsaythisthegospeltruththatifyouteachthatniggertoread

therebenokeepinghim,andthaswhutmakemewoki’swoktowriteantoreadghazal

Ole Mr. Auld said, if you teach that nigger to read
there be no keeping him, so I became determined to read.

I saved biscuits and jam for the poor white boys, traded a piece of pork
for pencils and paper, or a lesson on cursive or a story read

aloud by someone who knew the correct pronunciation.
Sometimes I’d sing a bit, lull them to nap so I could read

an extra passage or poem. I could feel my stars alter their path,
a grand achievement evolving. To write is to fill my belly; To read,

is a pail of coal I can throw onto a fire deep inside me.
My heart burns through page after page. Read-

ing to the sunrise was not wise, but the risk was what I knew.
Like my mother, I only have a small torch to guide me. When I read,

I re-route her hideous twelve miles. By day, I hide books in holes,
brush the dirt off every night. Most of the time, I am alone, read-

ing to myself. Frederick Douglass, how spoiled you are to have a weapon
of this size. Freedom radiates from my face with each word I read.

The black guy
is masturbating on Sixth again
These homeless people are getting ridiculous
There is this program up north,
where they nicely ship them away for work programs
It is really nice
I don’t know if happy adverbs can make an internment camp sound OK
Molina just cares about the Latinos
Molina hates white people
She doesn’t have a bike
She didn’t go to the bike meeting
We need more cops
We need more security
Another black guy
masturbating
I have a picture, I got up at at 4 a.m. and I caught him
My dog needs a place to run
Can we make that park private?
We are bringing back Broadway
ose businesses weren’t real
You know what we mean
I find your accusation that I am racist offensive
Here we go again with the race card, you people and the race card
My name is James T Butts and I am Black and I am here to let you know Bob isn’t racist
That black homeless guy is out of control
No one was even talking about race
Obama is the best president ever
This time it’s an Asian guy masturbating on Seventh
Did not know they could be homeless?
I thought that was a black thing
What? I am not being offensive just honest
I went out with an Asian lady once
She was real Americanized and talked too much
I had to break up with her
I am not racist, the Irish were the first slaves
I am not Irish, but I could be
There you go again with the race card
Race is relevant here
your accusations of racism
are why you people are masturbating
all over this place
And I voted for Obama,
I told you that.
I’ve moved 1200 miles
for a red and yellow sunset in the desert

I’ve ripped off my dress
to pay for my daughters college

I’ve thrown things and broken them
to work for the homeless

I’ve almost broken the law
to watch a child being born

I’ve howled at wildfires and the Santa Anas
god knows how I’ve howled
i make street lights appear on the ceiling
until we can no longer be the same

like the red of a house of bricks from childhood
like the dead rising from the pavement in the rain

*

there is an image in my head
of me lying on my back
on the ground outside the world trade center
it was 1989
and gary had told us to do that and look up
he said the building would look like it was going to fall on me

i remember visualizing it as he spoke
i remember lying there on the ground

but i can’t ever remember
what it is that i saw
what it was that took my breath away

*

what color am i, father?


*

he looked up at me from the floor
at the bottom of the stairs
briefly
before rolling away so i couldn’t see his face

i stood at the top of the stairs
hesitating
as i tried to hide all of my secrets

he couldn’t call to me
and i wouldn’t run down to him

because neither of us could admit
the distance between us.

*

he stands over me
as i drown in my sweat

he leans down and puts his hands on my legs
holding my kneel
ike a fruit

rise, he says,
walk.

and there is silence

broken
by a gasp that comes from
deep within me

what happens now

take me to 100, he says.
so i can get to 150.
No need to tell a pregnant woman how big she looks or doesn’t look for where she is at in her pregnancy
Or what she should put in her body
Or that she will never sleep again
Or have a life
No need
Because her orbit is being dictated by the cosmos
Her poundage determined by the gods
Her intake
Her outtake
Her purpose
Her music
Her muse
Her pains
Her healing
Are far beyond the opinion you carry
Shaped by a society who hides the truths of what bringing a life to this planet actually entails
Tides rise in her brain, in her being, that are inexplicable
You can call it phrases like “mommy brain” or “nesting”
But from where I sit and where my eyes gaze
And what my mind wraps upon
None of that is the case
In fact
Ancient symbols communicate
And as I struggle to pick objects up o the ground
Or raise myself out of the bed or a car or a chair
As my eyelashes fall to the ground
And my breathing is labored
As my digits swell
And my head bends over the toilet another time
I know this great creation
Exits
To bloom the blossoms of sacred eternity
Exploding inside me
A spindle
Weaving a magic beyond comprehension
Creation is messy
Creation is messy
Creation is messy
And to be respected
Some of the greatest warriors in history brought life here
So don’t clown
Or underestimate what a woman can do with a babe in her arms
The alchemy she can create
Illuminating the healing of century old stuck
Stop buying into the western world’s way of putting a woman in her place Stop and reconsider
Chose something different
This piece is dedicated to the voice in me
That no longer need be silent
And in turn the collective voice
By giving voice
And speaking truth
We instantly being to transmute the ignorance
And recreate the paradigm
1.
LA Noir is the other side of Sunshine;
Crime Novels, a Century of scandals:
OJ Simpson to Fatty Arbuckle,
Charlie Chaplin to Phil Spector
Black Dahlia to the Hillside Strangler,
the Night Stalker & Charles Manson.
Celebrity mansions in Coldwater Canyon.
Mickey Cohen’s Haberdashery,
The Doors Live at the Whisky!
Take a left on Doheny,
Unsolved mysteries like Who shot Biggie?

2.
Robert Downey Jr. & Charlie Sheen
Celebrate hedonism’s program
Like Lindsay Lohan.
Ike Turner was an old man
Still doing cocaine.
Some hate the player,
Some hate the game.
Southern California seldom rains.
The Landscape of Broken Dreams,
Everything is not what it seems.

3.
Where have you gone Rita Hayworth?
America’s first Cover Girl
Divorced from Orson Welles.
“Who knows what evil
Lurks in the hearts of men? The shadow knows.”
Literary alcoholics Like F. Scotch Fitzgerald
Came to Hollywood for the paycheck.
Faulkner, Hemingway & Nathaniel West
drank at Musso & Franks.
Basking in B Movies & Ida Lupino
The Outsider under red-lit rain.
Dashiell Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon,
James M. Cain began his reign
With The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Lucky Luciano & the Sunset Trocadero
Look at Dolores Del Rio on LA Brea,
Celluloid myth & screen legends
Gloria Swanson & Sunset Blvd
Somebody tell Cecil B. Demille
I’m ready for My Close Up.
William S. Hart to Humphrey Bogart,
Belushi OD’d at the Chateau MArmont.

4.
The Hollywood Ten became defendants
McCarthy frightened the country.
Fear ruled the Cold War,
Radicals became scapegoats.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
The City of Industry & Chinatown,
Conspiracy Theories abound,
And Most of them are true.

5.
Marilyn Monroe’s ghost haunts
The Hollywood Roosevelt,
where the first Oscars were held.
Now they’re in a shopping mall.
Everybody’s got something to sell,
Drop the velvet curtains
& roll out the red carpet.
The Hollywood myth
Started with Strawberry Fields.
The dirt road called Prospect Avenue
Grew into Hollywood Blvd.
Technicolor marquees & bright lights,
Tabloids publish catfights,
Fans line up on Premiere Nights,
Kodak got the naming rights,
Hollywood’s a lot prettier at night.

6.
Bards born under Bogart
Like Suzanne Lummis, LAureL Ann Bogen & Michael C. Ford
Created the poem noir...
Welcome to Beverly Hills.
EL Rancho Rodeo de Las Aguas,
The Gathering of the Waters.
LA Cienega began swamplands,
Cactus gardens & landscape architects
Rows of Palm trees & Eucalyptus,
Purple owers on Jacarandas,
Towering gates on Westside mansions.
Bette Davis said, “Take Fountain.”

7.
Restrictive Housing Covenants imposed social distance,
The struggle for Existence
Causes people to go for broke.
Hollywood is the City of Hope,
Songs of Innocence become Experience,
Dime detectives, dangerous dames,
Dead bodies & late night games.
LA’s criminal underworld dates back to the legend of Zorro.
Offshore Gambling ships owned by Bugsy Siegel.
A blanket of lights, the hills are on fire,
The city of night,
Seduced by desire.
Screams heard from afar,
An empty drink in a quiet bar,
A lonely ride in a busted car
Night in the city is L.A. Noir.
it’s the perfect spell, the perfect killing tool, the killing machine.

one million african americans are in u.s. prisons, 400,000 latinos.

they said the war on drugs was a war on the poor, because the institutions are inhabited by the apartheid imagination.

i place this line against the apartheid imagination.

the apartheid imagination requires no location, no physical body; because it has laws, records, court buildings, cells, conversations and life.
it has radio programs, all-white movies, jailhouse mythologies, 2-D images.
before the latest killings started, it was there, and when the killers are forgotten, the apartheid imagination goes on thinking, dreaming up new killers.

who remembers the ones who killed emmet till, medgar evers and fred hampton?
who remembers the guy who shot renisha mcbride?
who cares about aryan nation jason ‘gunny’ bush who executed jonathan bumstead of the aryan nation also of wenatchee wa for being a ‘race traitor’ and who shot 9 year old brisenia ores in the face in arivaca az?
who remembers the men of the 11th infantry brigade who machine-gunned the women and children in the ditches of my lai? who remembers names of soldiers of the 7th cavalry who received the national medal of honor for slaughtering 300 men, women and children at wounded knee? who bothers to remember james earl ray?
who remembers the massacre sites of california?

i place this line in front of the images of trayvon martin, of jordan davis.
i place this line at the images of muhammad al-durrah, iman darweesh al hams, wajih ramahi.

i place this line alongside the images of abdulrahman al-awlaki and brisenia ores.
i place this line transparently over the names of jose antonio elena rodriguez, sergio hernandez gueraca, ramses barron torres.

they were shot by the border patrol, walking or running, shot in the back.
they were killed by israeli forces using 3.1 billion dollars in 2013 u.s. military aid.
they were blown apart by a CIA drone ring a $70,000 agm-114 hellfire missile into a cafe.

they were killed by racists operating out of the apartheid imagination.
the apartheid imagination was created by genocide against indians and slavery of africans as a construction designed to kill white conscience and memory.
anyone entering into the apartheid imagination is a white man or an indian or a rebel slave.

it uses a hegemony of all-white images to convince white people any interest they may have is worth more than any life identified as other. it’s a strong mechanism for killing people around the world like indonesia, rwanda, palestine or india.

i have stood in the line for black and brown people at traffic court when i was the whitest one there, and the judge, an asian american guy substituting for the regular judge who was on holiday let everyone go without a fine.

i have stood in my mom’s kitchen window on a hill in the city terrace and watched the pillars of smoke rising for days over the city of los angeles.

i have stood at the counter in the laundry of the men’s county jail downtown in the fumes of dry cleaning chemicals handing out and collecting bags of laundry and seen the faces of the men in line (where one guy always comes along trying to look like a stone killer and says, “pass me some fucking money or i will fuck you up,” and maybe he was a stone killer, but i just returned his stare and took the next guy’s bag).

i have waited in the plastic chairs and long lines of the DMV and i have seen who is waiting.

i’ve had lacerations cleaned out, my face x-rayed and patched up in the ER at county general hospital and seen who is waiting.

i have read poems in front of crowds of hundreds in universities from sf state to naropa, from university of minnesota to suny buffalo and i have looked out on those faces and seen who is walking across the campus at hunters college and cal state fullerton, at the state colleges and the private colleges.

i have seen who is in the jail and in the court house line, who is waiting for a job outside home depot and orchard supply.

i’ve driven streets of towns of the hinterland where white teenagers scream something out of their cars and race away.

fuck the apartheid imagination, that’s what i’m saying, death to the apartheid imagination and its english courses and its ideologies taught in the universities and churches, piss on the all white movies pretending to be set in an all-white los angeles, all-white calif., all-white america, piss on the the norton anthology of post modern all white poetry and the norton anthology of all white american hybrid poetry, piss on all the little cliques of literati publishing all-white catalogs (with maybe one or 2 tokens) and touting another white guy as the latest wonderful thing (that thing is old, it’s so old now), arnold schwarzenegger and ronald reagan were your fleeting white icons of pre-eminence, they were happy to see half my family two generations dispossessed and sent to live in horse stalls of santa anita racetrack and colorado river internment camps, happy to go along with lives being destroyed, happy to sign some apology letters decades later, put up a few plaques on historical sites out in the desert.

who remembers individuals operating behind the poison alzheimer’s of the apartheid imagination?

who shall remember the mushroom cloud of the apartheid imagination when the next killers are shooting, murder a child in the headlines, and the people post and repost all the images, talking laws, discussing footnotes and factoids?

the names are in the ground, the apartheid imagination like a shadow above them.
i place this line in front of it saying my whole life has been against it, and the rest of my life will be against it.

i place this line in front of it.
Being a rush of myth & vapour
there exists a panoramic fog of poetic jackals’ blazes appearing on lower planes as the froth of refraction

here
there exists the scarlet base of bluish jaguar’s ink
of sculpted swans within the air of seminal polar initiation not unlike the dialectics of water
having the somnolent power of vertiginous cobalt emanation

each meadow of ferociousness bleating
like a naked armistice of smoking sanguinary owers evolving higher & higher into hackias of crystal
into elliptical meridians
far beyond protoplasmic complication

one then sees a realm of lighted Impeyan pheasants ying in circles in a violet unicorn’s palace
where there electrically proliferates
ozonal spells

osmotic snows
being flakes of weightless rainbow jonquils transcending the dark
of oily dragon fang auroras
1.

that sleep hammer/ how you hold it
and I let you how I let you/so that we have matching wounds

I put my body between my mother and my sister’s body /she never missed I didn’t let her miss. Once, younger, stupid, I ducked or ran from her and I was sorry

what names float the ghost name
the girl who won’t come when called
except that I have no name to call her
I use smoke as signals the way my mother does with me
(can a house be built can a house be moved what is there )
there is
there is
(disappearing people)





2.

breaking as waves as glass slippers/what makers demand
what salt is: protection against the works of others
or misfortune
what is language but tripwire/or a bridge
from far away sisters wave to us
the hand that holds your name like longing /when
I put my teeth together to say your first syllable my mouth waters with sorrow




3.

(which flood)

(joy)

stubborn door, this skin
and burial in this body sounds of laughter and breaking and instruments the body as instrument the line of a childhood a turning away or running away /wilderness/ starting from a home to a world/ a life the ocean for the rst time

(the first time the tide lapped at my ankles I wept with shame/I apologize mother this is my body/my father held my hand and laughed at the water).

and burial and burial and burial a song again a lingering and forming how like a life how the body becomes and then disappears
mother who gives permission to cry who makes the rain and drought
mountains crumble so that forests can rise under the feet of wolves
(something about peaches and moons/a potted mint and portraiture)
and what things quake, a limb, a lip, the continent with my desire for your trembling and my body as this wilderness what trembling and then stillness
old as wolves I want to hold your face my
(sparrow the kind of bird who keeps secrets)




4.

fever when it comes is a house on fire is the unrelenting rain far from the body that suffers cold I saw you or the mirage of you or was it your shadow or did I dream you/ I had a little aunt who was only ash and she never answers when I call (arrow catcher, here come ashes)




5.

Here is a broken body/ there is a bruised wilderness/ the body in a wilderness making new an autumn a time of sleep and graying

I picked glass from the soil to protect my family
I nursed a sore paw
the calico follows me wherever I go/
she is not afraid of wolves




6.

But there are fires to forget but we can’t forget even when we don’t remember (I remember her/ my color, my scowl the lost twin soul) they say the old dragon drank to forget her. I think it was to remember. A tired and sad dragon, he was cruel except to me. His laughter made the doves trill away from the palms. He lifted me onto the red filly. He told me she was mine and I named her Golondrina, after the birds that never stay.

you carry the place/ the death/ where is a place not crooked not covered in dust left by a terrible night left by those wonderful nights and the night of loss too and the nights of laughter

burn/break/live
or not
some cell in your body deciding what to do what comes next and the atoms of the universe arrange themselves in such a way
to let you pass.
what the ocean is /what names map/ what use is the body
that can be broken/ or taken/that just fades away.




7.

(Paterfamilias)
a shadow
a bone            its marrow
a hand/ a body
under another’s hand and care
a tiny death (mine)
I wait for a sun
I want to be
your first place
that place of
snow marked
by your breath
the Mystery Of
all of the leaving naming and the longing
and I want it to be my name my song
and I am not okay and can’t say the words
so I sulk from across the plains and trees
in March there is death and longing and the
month of March does not belong to me




8.

the places where you are from are always
on fire this city or that country or this body
(what if I told you this city of yours is my body I have mapped it in bridges and train tracks)

el nombre de la estación verano
el nombre de quien / de cual canción

and what are anchors? cement? names? gods?

ghosts: yellow the color of everything but the sun even as it dies in a place so far from where you were
born/ here in the north your body holds blame

the body /of me
which you conjured
and brought forth in some sleep (it has been such a long night)